Category Archives: The Funny Side

Celebrity Franchisees: Opportunity or Challenge?

I read a recent post in Advertising Age which talked about how there is a big trend for celebrities buying into franchises in the USA. At first I was quite taken aback and thought – what on earth? One major thing that jumped up for me:  How to Manage Them as Personalities!

As any franchisor will tell you, one of the big things you have to keep in mind when you recruit franchisees – its that you need to be looking for the personalities who are motivated, enthusiastic and cash liquid….but only semi-entrepreneurial. What I mean by this is you want franchisees who will take on all the responsibility for being a business owner…but be happy to toe the line (accept that the bigger decisions are really the franchisor’s to make).

Now, from what we know about celebrities – once they achieve a certain amount of success they don’t really like being told what to do (I accept that that is a very general comment to make of course, but bear with me). However, while I read further in this post from Advertising Age I couldn’t believe how many US celebrities (particular sporting celebrities) are ‘collecting’ investments in franchises!

I think this is a fantastic boost for the model, because with these kinds of people (who have a lot of money to look after) to find franchises as viable investment routes…that says a lot for the brands they buy, as well as the franchise business model as a whole. Obviously these guys choose models where they would hire teams that would manage the operations, so I guess my worry about managing personalities wouldn’t probably be a big problem in the practical day-to-day sense.

What I have tended to forget is the amount of social influence these celebrities have, especially when they have come from some tough backgrounds and many of them see investing back into their communities as ‘giving back’ and providing employment opportunities. The brands are clever about it too – they will approach celebrities who have a particular pull for a specific demographic that fits in with where they are trying to expand. Nothing wrong with that – as long as everyone wins in the end I say.

In closing I thought you may be interested in this list of franchises and their corresponding investor celebs (perhaps the UK could learn from this tactic?):

Have you come  across any celebrity investors that you could add to that list above? I’d love to hear from you….please pop a comment on this blog post or share it with me on my Facebook Page here.

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Being a Franchise Consultant – A True Story

While pondering and flicking through my gazillion blog and newsfeeds to find something to ‘refresh’ you with, I came to a realisation: I am brain boggled. What does this mean? Well, I am quite literally overwhelmed with information, emails, proposals, call-backs, chase-ups, reminders, social media, ….you name it…I’ve got it on my desk, laptop, Blackberry…and even printed on my forehead.

The life of a franchise consultant is one that requires a certain amount of patience, flexibility, diplomacy, balance, compassion, understanding and a whole lot of caffeine, chocolate, cheese and potatoes (my comfort food). So my post for you today is a small window in to a Day in the Life of Me.

My (work) day always starts at 8am (my actual day starts at 5am with small child en tow) and I start with my ever present four quadrant to-do list. What does four quadrant mean – well the great Stephen Covey would tell you that it is in fact being able to distinguish the priorities of bits on your to-do list as:

  • Q1 = Urgent, Important
  • Q2= Not Urgent, Important
  • Q3= Not Imporant, Urgent
  • Q4= Not urgent, Not Important

But what my actual page looks like is this:

  • Business 1 – what needs doing now (includes mainly client to-do’s and work)
  • Business 2 – what needs doing now (includes mainly client to-do’s and work)
  • Technical issues – adminstrative bits and pieces re my own busiensses that need chasing up on or doing
  • Home – anything that needs doing to maintain the four walls that house my family

With my Franchise clients, there is a certain amount of mothering that I have to do, in order to make sure that I am keeping on top of the things that they need to be doing and putting in place. I am very conscious that everything that I help them with today not only gets them closer to their business dreams, but also helps secure those dreams for the future. Franchising is (should be) quite due diligence based – do your homework thoroughly and get your ducks in a row before you start to bring franchisees on board who will immediately start ‘wanting’ things from you (and quite rightly so). (Here add items to to-do list related to these things!)

So, my next morning step is to double check all of my expertise  feeds. By this I mean, any new blog posts or emails subscriptions that might bear some nugget of information that may be important to me, my followers (social media), my businesses and/or my clients’ businesses. I also check my communities on my social media accounts and post any of these nuggets, or answer any comments that my followers may have posted over night. That should all take about an hour or so….then I move to the kettle and make a BIG cup of COFFEE to actually start my day.

With Franchising, there are so many elements to guiding your clients around the model and its intracacies that my day can literally turn up side down when a client refuses to take the path I’ve advised them and totally side step all the advice he’s received. This makes any consultant’s life a living nightmare, because you know the consequences of going down the ‘easy’ path and not the one that has been advised by you (for good reason.)

Unfortunately I have the added complication of franchising not being regulated in the UK and therefore any advice and guidance that I am giving my clients is really based on generally accepted best practice, bits of competition law and not a lot else. (Best practice of successful and ethically run franchise operations and the franchise professionals who helped them get there I might add)! So, I have to (diplomatically) drive my clients through self-made minefields when they have chosen the more exciting FAST route. Now, I might also add that minefields are not my favourite thing…especially for a suspected control freak who likes to be prepared every step of the way (er, like me). So, my other great skill is in foreseeing where I think my clients are likely to go and stop them in their tracks before they jump into that 4×4 to head into the minefield. This can take me up to lunchtime!

In between the minefield avoidance, I will of course have new prospective client meetings to organise or attend; put together new proposals; answer calls from random individuals who have no idea why they are calling me other than because they were ‘referred’ (that’s always a fun conversation) or even better… have decided that I should definitely, definitely meet up with them so that they can ‘pick my brain’. Super. Look forward to that taking me up to the end of my day…when I get to pick up my bouncy little girl who has had a fantasic day organising the play things in the kindergarten room she is in and playing in paint.

Where did it all go wrong? I loved kindergarten…why did I have to grow up, go to University and earn my drivers license for a 4 x 4 to drive through Minefields? Who knows….but guess what? Tomorrow is another day!

PS – Phew…overwhelm has subsided and I actually feel productive now! What bugs you about your day and pushes your buttons?

Social Media – The Business Case

The scary term is “Social Media” – the actual meaning for me is “Community Building and Trust”.

If, like many people you have been dodging the SocMed bullet, I’m here to help you understand it, dispel the mystery and urge you to look seriously at the huge potential this phenomenon has for you as a business owner.

Let’s think back to basic historic business and remember what it used to be called: TRADE. If I wanted meat, I could trade my cabbages for your lamb chops. Business was simple – it was about (a) your word; (b) whether you arrived on time for the trade; and (c) whether your goods were “of quality” to ensure future trade. The things that could potentially scupper trade however was rumour; reputation and remissiveness (if that is a word!) By this I mean that your return business depended on happy returning customers and them referring you on to others.

This dependence forms the foundation of creating a community of people who love you and your business…and are happy to steer more ‘fans’ your way which in turn means more trade for you. Does that make sense? Yes! We have lost sight of how easy it can be to engage customers with truth; vitality; enthusiasm for our business; and the belief (and proof) that we can offer something great to them.

This, my readers, is the basic tenet of community building, a.k.a. Social Networking. The premise of Social Networking is that it is only one small part of a Social Media Strategy…which in turn is part and parcel of your overall marketing plan. Business planning can be complicated however it can also be pretty simple – if you don’t lose yourself in all the jargon. Stick to what our forefathers used to cherish as rudimentary to being thought highly of in their social and business communities: “Attract good customers, be good to them and deliver what you promise when you say you will.”

By sitting down and ‘listening’ to what Social Media has to offer – you will soon learn that it is in essence a FREE and hugely comprehensive business attraction tool that can mean a boost to your business’ bottom line. Please do take heart and know that I wouldn’t support this if I didn’t believe it works, but I am very strict about also advising that social networking and community building has to be done responsibly and with a clear focus on message, audience and content. No-one wants to collect more spam – so don’t be a spam spewer!

For franchised and non-franchised businesses Social Media represents an ideal way to not only build a national brand and listening for your product/service; but also an opportunity to connect with the local (and international) community and drive customers to your website and/or business door.

With Twitter, you attract ‘followers’ and with Facebook Pages you attract ‘fans’ – these people become your prospective lead generators and/or customers. Consider that each fan or friend you attract may have 200 to 300 friends (on average) and if they like what you have to say they will very easily pass a link on to their friend base. It is obvious what the ramifications are: exponential exposure to an ever growing audience.

Be smart: review your offering, see where you can take advantage of having a captive audience and tap into this new way of doing business – which isn’t really very NEW, so much as the re-invention of an old lamb vs. cabbage trade situation…but online.

If you would like to have your finger on what is going on in the world of Social Media, here are some resources you may find useful to follow:  Social Media ExaminerMashable

Economy Slowing…Franchising Hotting Up

I am awfully happy to report that there are some more positive stories coming out now – although I have to find them in round about ways. It seems that some people are really being creative about how they get through this period, and are looking at how they do business, as well as how they spend their money. Of course there are the few key drivers that will move the more entrepreneurial minded people towards franchising, and those are:

– not wanting to return to corporate employment (the view of ‘job security’ as changed)

– create something for themselves, with the umbrella of support that franchising provides

– having received the redundancy pay-outs,, this helps them to invest in the right franchise opportunity

Banks in the UK still not actively supporting business (especially small business)… in lending responsibly to those that have viable business plans and have shown steady and unwaivering growth over the last couple of years. My message on that score is – ‘Banks…you best be careful’. When the tide turns and business owners can afford to choose…they will choose those banks or personal bankers who listened, supported and guided as much as they could. They won’t choose those that handed them a multi-page loan application form with hoops and boxes to leap and tick just to get the £15000 they needed to keep their business going and growing.

Its scary how the economy is grinding to a halt – but I have every faith that with the combined entrepreneurial conscienciousness out there – the kickstart is coming soon!

Click here for a story of someone in the US who used his redundancy payout to get into business for himself with the Mr Handyman franchise.

Do note that getting into business for yourself is not the easy route – its even harder than you think it is, but there are payoffs in the longrun.

Me as a Handyman

Me as a Handyman